Fear of Intercourse

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

hi i am 25 years old. I am still a virgin and have only messed around with my ex of 5 years. I cant help it i try not to get scared and tense up but every time i came close to having sex with him i would tense up and make it impossible. i tend to do the same thing when i go to the gyno i make it impossible for them to do an exam. I cant even use tampons. how can i get over this i want to be able to have sex and get married and have kids. I am pretty sure my ex fiance who i was with for 5 years left me and got with someone else because i couldn’t have sex. please help

A: I hope you have a gynecologist who will talk to you about how to solve the problem and not just give up on trying to do an exam. If not, change your doc! There are a number of reasons that sex can be painful for a woman. Vaginismus is a muscle spasm that happens when a woman attempts intercourse. Then there’s genital warts, herpes, or other STDs, an injury or infection, or problems with the ovaries, uterus, or cervix. So the first thing to do is to make sure that you are physically okay by having a thorough physical exam.

If everything checks out medically, it may be that you are right to diagnose the situation as “fear.” Once a woman has had a painful experience, it’s common for her to brace against pain. That tension causes the very pain she was trying to avoid. Then the next time she tries to have sex, she braces even more which makes penetration even less likely. Over time, the situation gets worse and worse.

If that’s the case with you, please consider talking with a psychologist or social worker who has experience treating such problems. You can learn new ways to manage your fears so that you can relax. You and your partner can learn ways to help you calm and get ready so that you can enjoy the closeness of an intimate relationship.

I’m glad you were motivated to write. You don’t need to give up on having the intimacy of a sexual relationship. It’s probably that you just need the right treatment.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 May 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Fear of Intercourse. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/05/06/fear-of-intercourse/